Anniversary event of the World Natural Heritage Beech Forest Grumsin

16th of September, 2021

On 16th of September in the beautiful church of Altkünkendorf, Germany, the BEECH POWER team attended the anniversary event marking the 10th anniversary of the inclusion of the Grumsin beech forest in the UNESCO World Natural Heritage. 

The Grumsin Beech Forest

By nature, beech trees would cover the central areas of the European continent. Nowhere else on earth has a single tree species conquered large parts of an entire continent in such a short time, as the copper beech managed to do in Europe after the last ice age. This still ongoing process was an important feature in the recognition of beech forests as a World Heritage Site.However, beech forests in Europe have been severely decimated and impaired by humans in recent centuries. Old, near-natural and thus particularly species-rich beech forests are very rare today. Lowland beech forests such as the Grumsin beech forest can now almost only be found in Germany.

The Minister of the Environment of Brandenburg Axel Vogel emphasized the opportunities and challenges involved in safeguarding and developing a World Heritage component. "10 years ago, Grumsin was an almost unknown patch of forest, surrounded by used agricultural landscape and without infrastructure. Above all, the regional stakeholders can be proud of what has been achieved here with visitor guidance, the establishment of information centers and a guidance system from the highway to Grumsin, as well as guided tours for guests into the core zone."

Minister Vogel expressed special thanks to the city of Angermünde, the Altkünkendorf Culture and Heritage Association, the Joachimsthal Office, the districts of Uckermark and Barnim, the Angermünde Tourism Association, the State Forestry Enterprise, the administration of the Schorfheide Chorin Biosphere Reserve, the Brandenburg Nature Guard and the many active people from the region. Representatives from politics and society as well as local activists came to the event in the church of Altkünkendorf in the immediate vicinity of the World Heritage component at the invitation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Protection, the city of Angermünde and the Joachimsthal office. "The beech forests of Grumsin, the primeval forests of tomorrow, are hotspots for biodiversity and valuable for climate protection, they are an opportunity for regional development, but also a great asset for mankind. For example, various subsidies could be used for the development of infrastructure, the information center in Altkünkendorf and the steam mill in Groß Ziethen or for the decoration of the church tower in Altkünkendorf. Internationally, the World Heritage Site has contributed to making Brandenburg and the biosphere reserve known beyond Germany’s borders. So it remains our task in this European project to protect and preserve this beautiful and increasingly wild World Heritage forest on the one hand, and to make it an experience for residents and guests on the other."

Karina Dörk, District Administrator of the Uckermark, acknowledged in her greeting the many years of voluntary commitment as well as the commitment of the city of Angermünde and the community of Ziethen on site.

Frederik Bewer, mayor of the city of Angermünde, also looks to the future: “10 years is a first step. The task of a World Heritage Site is designed for generations. Therefore, the next step begins now with a lot of work on the common concern here in Angermünde on site in Altkünkendorf with the Grumsin. Let us tackle it and express our responsibility with it. Let us always think of the following generations.”

Photo competition

Together with Mayor Bewer, Minister Vogel selected the winners of the photo competition on the occasion of the anniversary, whose pictures will be shown in an exhibition and thus become ambassadors for the Grumsin World Natural Heritage Beech Forest. 

Festival lectures

The Grumsin beech forest in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Schorfheide-Chorin is a part of the transnational serial World Natural Heritage Site “Ancient Beech Forests and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”, together with 93 other forest areas in 18 countries. Two lectures and the subsequent panel discussion focused on this international perspective.

Prof. Dr. Hans Dieter Knapp – long-time director of the International Nature Conservation Academy Vilm of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and one of the fathers of the national park program in eastern Germany – spoke about the history, status and perspectives of the World Natural Heritage site and pleaded for a different approach to forests, including commercial forests: “I see our beech forest World Natural Heritage component as a beacon to raise awareness of the magnificence of our forests and thereby promote appropriate management of them across the entire area,” said Knapp.

Dr. Susanne Winter from WWF addressed the issue of the endangerment and protection of the last primeval beech forests in the Romanian Carpathians in her presentation.

In the concluding panel discussion, the representatives of the BEECH POWER project from the partner countries Croatia, Austria and Slovenia discussed with the head of the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve, Dr. Martin Flade, about the future of the UNESCO World Heritage Beech forests Site.